Tragedy in the North Sea exposes lack of "just transition" for offshore wind workers
The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) Regional Organiser Jake Molloy and ALBA Depute Leader Kenny MacAskill MP have today (Friday) presented a short paper (attached below) asking "Where's the Just Transition?" in which they outline how the recent tragedy in the North Sea, 98 miles east of Aberdeen, in which a man went missing has exposed the legislative gap denying health and safety and other employment protections, which exist for workers in the oil and gas sector, to workers in the offshore wind sector.
Jake Molloy and Kenny MacAskill MP went on to issue a direct challenge to the UK Government to undertake an urgent review into the issue, to address the lack of enforcement and protection including, if necessary, emergency legislation and to ensure that “the unjust transition must end”.
In a statement Kenny MacAskill MP said:
“A Just Transition was declared before the World at Cop26 in Glasgow in 2021 and has been championed by both UK and Scottish Governments but the recent tragic loss of a man at sea, in the North Sea, has exposed the lack of a just transition for those who work in the offshore wind sector.
“All workers whether they work in oil and gas or the offshore wind sector which is at the forefront of the renewables revolution must be covered by the same health and safety and employment protections.
“Where is the justice in a situation where a worker in the oil and gas sector is afforded those protections while a worker in the offshore wind sector is not?
“The recent tragedy in the North Sea would have been investigated by the Health and Safety Executive if it had taken place in the oil and gas sector but because it is in offshore wind sector will result in the site or any concerns about working practices being investigated instead by the Liberian authorities. This is because in maritime cases beyond territorial waters of 12 miles, the enforcing and investigatory authority is the vessels Flag state. Valeris 121 is registered in Liberia.
“This tragedy raises issues on enforcement and protection as they relate to offshore wind vessels, as HSE does not have jurisdiction ands cannot take any action as this is classified as a marine safety investigation, rather than health and safety at work and jurisdiction falls to the maritime authorities.
“None of this reflects the changes in the new sector of offshore wind. Protection is provided when operating on a turbine structure but this is a small part of the construction and maintenance of them. Workers do not stay on turbines and work on them is limited largely to repairs.
“This manifest injustice is compounded by the unfairness of Scottish workers, in the offshore wind sector, being sacked in order to make way for foreign labour who are paid below the minimum wage.
“This unjust transition must end which is why I am calling, along with the RMT, for the UK Government to undertake an urgent review into the issue, to address the lack of enforcement and protection including, if necessary, emergency legislation.”